SBD/May 15, 2013/Facilities

Cubs Launch Website To Promote Petition In Support Of Wrigley Field Renovations

The Cubs have “stepped up a public relations campaign to build support for Wrigley Field renovations” by launching WrigleyField.com yesterday, according to Ameet Sachdev of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The website asks visitors to sign an online petition "to save Wrigley Field." It also “includes artist renderings of the proposed changes to the stadium as well as a link encouraging supporters to call” the office of Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney. The online appeal follows public appearances by Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts “targeting business people and public officials for support.” The Cubs also recently “hired a consulting firm to contact residents who live near Wrigley to ask if they endorse the plans and encourage supporters to attend neighborhood meetings" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/15). CSNCHICAGO.com’s Tony Andracki noted the website “features a full breakdown of ‘The Plan,’ including a five-minute YouTube video of what the renovated ballpark could look like.” The site also will “serve as a platform to update fans and Wrigleyville/Lakeview residents on construction and progress throughout the ordeal” (CSNCHICAGO.com, 5/14). Meanwhile, in Chicago, Byrne & Pearson report in a poll of Chicago voters, “nearly half said they side with neither the Cubs nor the rooftop owners in the ongoing debate to renovate Wrigley Field.” In the poll conducted among 800 registered voters from April 30-May 6, "the team's efforts were backed" by 28% of voters while the rooftop owners were backed by 21%. The results “might be indicative of a level of fatigue -- or indifference -- among Chicagoans" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/15).

THE BUILDING IS THE STAR: The AP’s Jim Litke writes, "If the Cubs were half as good at baseball as they are at artist's renderings, the team would have left Wrigley Field behind long before now. But it's the aging ballpark that's propped up the franchise for nearly a century now, not the other way around." While the Cubs “stunk last year,” Forbes “ranked them as the most profitable organization in baseball.” In a town that “always prided itself on making deals, that was the deal the Cubs finally struck with their fans: You can't beat fun at the old ballpark -- so long as you don't waste too much time worrying about what was happening on the field.” Even “measured against a century-and-counting of futility, the best thing you can say” about Ricketts’ “tenure is that the organization is making scant progress.” So “just in case things don't work out on the baseball side, plowing money into Wrigley turns out to be a very good hedge bet” (AP, 5/15). In Illinois, Les Winkeler writes Ricketts' “desire to build a huge new video scoreboard at Wrigley Field is misguided in so many ways.” The stadium is “hallowed ground.” Some things “deserve respect,” and Wrigley Field is “one of those places” (SOUTHERN ILLINOISAN, 5/15).

BORROWING A PAGE: In N.Y., Joe Gose notes the Cardinals Nation and Budweiser Brew House restaurants in the Ballpark Village development around Busch Stadium “will include rooftop decks that look into” the facility. Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said that the “vision stemmed from the residential rooftops that overlook Wrigley Field in Chicago, which to him seemed to integrate the stadium into the fabric of the city.” DeWitt: “We wanted that interaction. I’ve always been fascinated by having something across the street and creating a window into the ballpark" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/15).
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